“Pay your money, place your bets.” That’s a phrase generally associated with betting on a horse race, but in this case, it’s time for us farmers, using our hindsight nitrogen program, to bet on this year’s crop. As much as I hate to gamble, I feel fortunate that I have had this much time to make up my mind. I have now watched April, May, and June come and go, and I know my moisture level here in mid-July. I know my final stand counts, and I have watched the plants closely as they have passed key milestones during their growth phases. These are all cards I have watched mother nature play, and it’s now my turn to play a few of my own. As you may remember, we currently have a base nitrogen rate of approximately 130 pounds already applied to our fields. Now it’s just a function of estimating yield potential of the fat kids versus the skinny kids — what’s supplied through mineralization on each zone, then coming back in with the AirScout Edition Hagie and making up the difference. I realize that there are still a few variables here that are hard to know for sure (and I’m working on that for you), but the good news is that I can be WAY off and still do better at estimating the needs of this year’s crop than the farmer who puts it all on in the fall or spring. It’s not rocket science — it’s just hindsight in action.

Screenshot of AirScout prescription building tool in action.

If that’s not enough to get you thinking, here is the icing on the cake: While we are out there applying nitrogen with the Hagie using the “Fat Kids” picture from last month, we are also applying a fungicide/foliar feed according to our latest thermal picture that shows stress or disease. I look at this as a FREE pass. Why not take advantage of it? Because of this, we partnered with Hagie back in 2015 to build us a special “AirScout Edition” machine capable of applying two separate products, with two separate prescriptions, at the same time. We also took advantage of 360 Yield Centers “Y-drops” to get the nitrogen where we needed it on the ground, and also their “Undercover” device to fog out the foliar products deep in the canopy. To me as a farmer, I look at this as a match made in heaven!

With the warm moist conditions many of us are experiencing this year, I am seeing disease patterns show up earlier than normal. Although I still can’t explain why these patterns exist, nearly every time I have seen them, disease is already present, or turns up later. Keep an eye out in your thermal pictures for a “wavy” pattern that seems to propagate from many different directions. This can sometimes be difficult to see if there is a wind patten present on that day, but remember that wind can only dissipate heat — it can’t create it. Beware of those hot spots that show up and continue to grow or spread as the season progresses. On our farm, we use the thermal picture to build zones based on temperature, and then apply a fungicide/foliar feed only to the places we feel it will be a benefit. This saves us quite a bit in product cost, and also adds to our efforts to be environmentally friendly.

Thermal image showing disease patterns.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this and continue to learn with me. If you have any questions, or comments, please reach out. You will be hearing from us soon regarding a new “Data Partner Program”  we will be offering for 2019, so please keep an eye out for that as well.